But God remembered Noah and all the animals and livestock that were with him in the ark. And He sent a wind over the earth, and the waters began to subside.
In the experience of Christians the joy of first believing is often followed by a time of discouragement. Freshness of feeling seems to fade. The "law of sin" makes itself felt. Yet it is just the training by which firmer faith and fuller joy are to be reached. Deep must have been the thankfulness of those in the ark; safe in the midst of the flood. But their faith was tried. Five months, and still no abatement. Noah may well have had misgivings (cf. Matthew 11:3
). But God had not forgotten him (cf. Mark 6:48
; John 10:14
). He remembered not Noah only, but every creature in the ark (cf. Luke 12:6
). He saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25
). The time of trial was a prelude to complete deliverance (cf. Acts 14:22
I. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN BELIEVERS ARE TEMPTED TO FEEL FORGOTTEN. When troubles gather, and prayers seem unanswered, it is hard to keep faith firm. The warning Hebrews 12:6, 7 often needful. Christians would fain be led in smooth ways. And when their course is irksome and discouraging they sometimes see the wind boisterous, and begin to sink. Still more surely does the feeling follow sin. The disciple has forgotten to watch; has trusted to his own strength; has ventured into temptation, and fallen. Then God is felt to be afar off (cf. Exodus 33:7). And there are times of discipline, when spiritual freedom seems denied, and the soul cannot cry Abba, and prayer seems choked (cf. Isaiah 49:14). Perhaps it is to teach humility; perhaps to show some root of evil; perhaps to excite more hunger for communion with God.
II. BUT GOD DOES NOT FORGET. A creature's love may fail (Isaiah 49:15), a creature's watchfulness may faint, but not God's. He made us; can he forget our wants? His purpose is our salvation; will he neglect any step? He gave his own Son for us; is anything else too great for his goodness? Not even thy coldness and unbelief can make him cease to care.
III. GOD'S CARE EXTENDS TO THE LEAST. Our Lord welcomed
(1) those of small account (Matthew 21:16; Mark 10:49; Luke 18:16), and
(2) the undeserving (Luke 7:39; Luke 15:10; Luke 19:7). He cares also for small matters (cf. Luke 12:28-30). What treasures of wisdom and love surround us on every side! These are not beneath his care. Will he not fulfill? (Romans 8:28).
IV. FREEDOM THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God's time not always what we should choose (cf. John 7:6). Noah a prisoner of hope. God showed that the hope was well founded. The agent of deliverance "a wind " - the same word, both in Hebrew and in the LXX., as is used in Genesis 1:2 for the Spirit of God. Doubtless the agent in drying up the water was a wind. But in the spiritual lesson we are reminded of the Holy Spirit. His work at first brought life on the earth; and his work prepared for repeopling it, and completed the work of Noah's deliverance. And his work gives us freedom, showing us the work of Christ, and our position as children of God. - M.
The ark of Noah, so far as man was concerned, was left alone upon the waters — no human hand steered it, no human counsel guided it. It was like many a poor soul which is struggling, perhaps, its heavenward way through difficulties and fears, without one earthly friend to comfort it, or one heart in all the world to which to turn for solace and advice. And yet not alone was it tossed and heaved upon this solitary waste. There was an arm unseen directing it, there was strength unseen supporting it, and love unseen that was wafting it. The inhabitants of the ark, at that time, constituted the whole body of God's believing people. "Are there few that shall be saved?" asked one of old. Yes, they are few, but they are all that can be saved; all that, by the largest stretch of mercy, consistent with God's justice, can be brought in, shall be brought in. There is no class on earth, if I may so speak, which has not got its representative in heaven. For 150 days — and when, we would ask you, was waiting time stretched out so long? — for 150 days Noah was left without any visible token of God's care, when, as the narrative simply and beautifully goes on, "God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark." Yes; for everything when it comes into covenant with God becomes, from that moment, dear to God. You may be the least — you may be the vilest of all His creatures, but if you are in the ark, if you are a Christian, God must love you. If the whole world is crying in terror, to a good and merciful God we must go: He has a store for His children. How many a man has had reason to look back and say, "That long, tedious affliction which seemed to me as if it would never end — what has it been to me but the saving of my soul? It has been the snatching of me from that destruction where thousands of my companions have perished, and where perhaps I should have been this day, but for God afflicting me"? The heaviest storm that follows you must one day be calmed; the rudest wind that assails you must one day be hushed. The waters at last began to assuage, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month — it is well for the mind to keep an accurate record of the date of mercies — the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. But Noah was not so soon as this to be released from his confinement, his term was not yet half completed: five months he had been locked in the ark, but seven months more must he yet remain in it. It is natural to imagine, that this last seven months must have seemed to pass more slowly than all the time while they were lying on the waves. If the troubled time of life brings its trials, so also does its calms. It is a hard thing to sit still, and very often there are the greatest perils in the still seasons of life. When is it that the soul of man is so tempted to presumption and self-righteous confidence? When is it that we become careless? When is it that the practical duties of life are neglected, and we sit down it a most dangerous spiritual slumber? Is it not in seasons when we have been imagining that we have reached a place of rest; when the soul, through an overweening confidence, abandons its efforts as if the work were done, and settles down on its lees? Oh, when I think of the dangers of life's calms, I bless God, that the voyage is generally a rough one! When I remember the trials of the resting ark, I bless God that it is kept so long struggling in the storm! We look at the ark resting seven months upon the mountains of Ararat. What a lesson have we here against impatience! Did Noah and his family complain that they had to wait so long? Oh, no; on the contrary, we know the feelings of the mariner, after a long and dangerous voyage, when he is becalmed within sight of his native land, how he looks at the land and longs to spring upon the shore, — and much more than that, probably, was Noah's felling; — but now mark his conduct: no impatient prayer escapes his lips, no restlessness seems to disturb his mind, his faith — as God will expect all faith to be — was a waiting faith. Not even when the least drop of water had dried away would he venture to leave the ark unbidden. God had shut the ark, and God, Noah knows, must open it. Not till the welcome word is given, "Go forth," will he presume to leave the place, how dark and how drearisome soever that place may be. Now learn, from Noah's example, your line of duty under many a similar dispensation. Let us learn not to be impatient — I do not say of forbidden pleasures, that would be an easy thing; but do not be impatient of pleasure which it is permitted, nay, of pleasure which it is commanded you to enjoy; no, not for heaven itself. If God has shut any Noah in, be content to wait patiently till God shall open. It is your confidence to sit still. Take another lesson from the resting of the ark. The flood — the type of this our present life — was not yet half completed when Noah found a resting place on earth. From that hour he is, indeed, to wait for many a day before he shall be permitted to come forth; but from that hour Noah is safe. He can thus change no more, for he is anchored on a Rock. Now just so may it be with us on life's long voyage. The time when it shall be good for us to land on the eternal shore, God alone has fixed — be it ours to wait for it. Long before our sojourn is nigh full — ay, at any time in all the course — we may find a safe anchorage under the Rock of Ages; and from the happy moment when you shall have been received upon a better mountain than that of Ararat, you will feel that you will move no more. There may be a rising of the deep waters around you, but you will be settled and at rest; and oh, how triumphant will you look down on the waters and floods of this world's struggles, while your faith, standing high on the mountain of God, can feel that the foundations of eternity are under you.
The waters assuaged. I.
THAT IT IS MARKED BY A RICH MANIFESTATION OF DIVINE MERCY TO THOSE WHO HAVE SURVIVED THE TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION.
1. God's remembrance of His creatures during the cessation of retribution is merciful.
2. God's remembrance of His creatures during the cessation of retribution is welcome.
3. God's remembrance of His creatures during the cessation of retribution is condescending.
II. THAT IT IS MARKED BY THE OUTGOING AND OPERATION OF APPROPRIATE PHYSICAL AGENCIES. "And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged." There have been many conjectures in reference to the nature and operation of this wind; some writers say that it was the Divine Spirit moving upon the waters, and others that it was the heat of the sun whereby the waters were dried up. We think controversy on this matter quite unnecessary, as there can be little doubt that the wind was miraculous, sent by God to the purpose it accomplished. He controls the winds. The Divine Being generally works by instrumentality.
3. Natural. Anti in this way is the cessation of Divine retribution brought about.
III. THAT IT IS MARKED BY A STAYING AND REMOVAL OF THE DESTRUCTIVE AGENCIES WHICH HAVE HITHERTO PREVAILED. Here we see —
1. That the destructive agencies of the universe are awakened by sin.
2. That the destructive agencies of the universe are subdued by the power and grace of God.
3. That the destructive agencies of the universe are occasional and not habitual in their rule.
IV. THAT IT IS MARKED BY A GRADUAL RETURN TO THE ORDINARY THINGS AND METHOD OF LIFE. This return to the ordinary condition of nature is —
3. Minutely chronicled.The world is careful to note the day on which appeared the first indication of returning joy, when after a long period of sorrow the mountain tops of hope were again visible. It is fixed in the memory. It is written in the book. It is celebrated as a festival. Lessons —
1. That the judgments of God, though long and severe, will come to an end.
2. That the cessation of Divine judgment is a time of hope for the good.
3. That the cessation of Divine judgment is the commencement of a new era in the life of man.
The ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. —
On the slopes of Ararat was the second cradle of the race, the first village reared in a world of unseen graves.
I. It was THE VILLAGE OF THE ARK, a building fashioned and fabricated from the forests of a drowned and buried world. To the world's first fathers it must have seemed a hallowed and venerable form.
II. The village of the ark was THE VILLAGE OF SACRIFICE. They built a sacrificial altar in which fear raised the stones, tradition furnished the sacrifice, and faith kindled the flame.
III. The first village was THE VILLAGE OF THE RAINBOW. It had been seen before in the old world, but now it was seen as a sign of God's mercy, His covenant in Creation.
IV. The village of the ark gives us our FIRST CODE OF LAWS. As man first steps forth with the shadows of the Fall around him, scarce a principle seems to mark the presence of law. Here we advance quite another stage, to a new world; the principles of law are not many, but they have multiplied. As sins grow, laws grow. Around the first village pealed remote mutterings of storms to come.
V. The village of the ark was THE VILLAGE OF SIN. Even to Noah, the most righteous of men, sin came out of the simple pursuit of husbandry. A great, good man, the survivor of a lost world, the stem and inheritor of a new, he came to the moment in life of dreadful overcoming.
SIN PUNISHED. Mount Ararat was a solemn witness to the severity of God's judgments upon a guilty world.
II. GRACE REVEALED. Mount Ararat saw Divine grace displayed to sinful men.
III. SALVATION ENJOYED. Mount Ararat beheld salvation enjoyed by believing sinners: This temporal deliverance was a type of the spiritual. Immeasurably grander, however, will be the salvation of the saints.
1. In respect of its character, being spiritual instead of merely temporal.
2. In respect of its measures, being complete and not merely partial.
3. In respect of its duration, being eternal, and not merely for a brief term of years.
IV. GRATITUDE EXPRESSED. Mount Ararat heard the adorations and thanksgivings of a redeemed family.
V. SAFETY CONFIRMED. Mount Ararat listened to the voice of God confirming the salvation of His people.
()What a splendid spectacle! The resting of an eagle who, after soaring half-way to the sun, and stretching across whole provinces; at last, the light of the evening gleaming on her golden feathers, folds on the crag her unwearied wing; the resting of a ship of the line at anchor after contending all day with the angry billows; even the resting of the great moon, as if tired with her long journey through the ether, upon some mount of pines or some hill of snow — are only faint images of the sublimity of the scene, when the Wanderer of the Waters, the God-built ship, its journey done, its work accomplished, its glory gathered, its crew safe, the commencement of a new era of hope for earth through it secured, calmly, and one would almost dream, consciously, reposes upon the proud summit which God has prepared to bear its burden and to share in its immortal fame.
()Noah anchored his ark to the Providence of God. No sails were unfurled to the breeze, no oars were unshipped to move the lumbering ark, no rudder was employed to steer. The Providence of God was deeper than the winds and waves and contrary current; and to that, he fastened his barque with the strong cable of faith. Hence the security of the ark with its living freight.
()When Alexander the Great was asked how he could sleep so soundly and securely in the midst of surrounding danger, he replied that he might well repose when Parmenis watched. Noah might well be in peace, since God had him in charge. A gentleman, crossing a dreary moor, came upon a cottage. When about to leave, he said to its occupant, "Are you not afraid to live in this lonely place?" To this the man at once responded, "Oh! no, for faith closes the door at night, and mercy opens it in the morning." Thus was Noah kept during the long night of the deluge; and mercy opened the door for him.
Tops of the mountains seen. —To realize this, let us suppose ourselves standing on a hill on a September morning, surrounded by a sea of mist. Nothing for awhile is visible but wild, rolling waves of dripping darkness, till at last the sun looks out, a wind begins to blow, and then there loom forth, peak after peak, the hundred hills around, starting up, as if newly created, from the gulf below, their bases still bathed in mist, but their tops crowned with light, and resembling the islands of some "melancholy main." It is one of the sublimest of spectacles, reminding you of the worlds rising out of chaos, of God's "calling the things that were not, and they appeared," and compelling you, the spectator, to uncover, as the mountains have doge, in the presence of the God of day, although you see in him, what they do not, only the vicegerent of his heavenly King. And similar, but still more striking, must have been to Noah's eye, as he stood on the sides of the resting ark, the sight of the ancient landmarks of nature reappearing, the ridges of Taurus heaving up like islands through the waters, their shows for the time melted, and perhaps over them all, in the remote distance, the "Finger Mount" arising, relieved against, and pointing significantly to the calm blue sky! Sight reminding us of the rising of great buried truths, as at the Reformation, out of the darkness of ages; struggling, too, to free themselves from the incrustations of error, as the lion from the impediments of the Daedal earth, Sight reminding us of the resurrection of great reputations buried under loads of calumny, or whelmed in deluges of oblivion, into the light of general appreciation, and the consecration of long-denied reverence and love. Sight reminding us of the resurrection of the dead from their sepulchres — specially, shall we say, of the resurrection of aged and venerable patriarchs, having left their hoary hairs in the dust, arising to the vigour and freshness of immortal youth.
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